It only took about a week or so to become playable, but Grand Theft Auto Online seems to be completely stable now with only a few minor hiccups. I know I was one of the few that opted into waiting a week before hopping into the online portion of GTA. By doing so, I was able to avoid some of the game-breaking glitches and all around frustration surrounding its launch. These issues included money loss, reputation (experience) loss, and complete and utter character loss. All of the above seem non existent now, though, as Rockstar has seemingly ironed out most of the issues.
Rockstar is really onto something with this online iteration of the GTA universe. Besides the god-awful character creator, which has you create your character’s appearance through a convoluted process of creating the appearance of your grand parents, which then determines the appearance of your parents, that then influences the appearance of your character (told you it was convoluted), the online mode is a blast! The best part is that the online portion isn’t even finished, as Rockstar has plans to expand the online via updates with things such as additional clothing options, new weapons, a content creator that will allow you to make custom races and CTF maps, and the biggest of all, multiplayer heists!
When you first start out as a lowly, level one, entry-level career criminal you have only a few options to make money–robbing convenience stores, selling cars, races, and doing one-off missions for some of your contacts. As you gain reputation and rank up, you will gradually be introduced to other characters located in the game world, including characters from the single player portion! As you meet these new contacts, more ways to earn money and rank up become available to you. For example, once you unlock the sticky bomb at level 19, you will start occasionally finding armored cars to rob, much like the single player game.
What you do with the money is much the same as the single player portion. You can buy property in the form of apartments and/or garages, buy new threads for your character, purchase weaponry, and even high-end cars. These high-end vehicles can only be ‘owned’ if you purchase them from your phone’s internet and they cost quite a bit.
“Why can’t I just steal a high end car?” you ask? Well, the multiplayer introduces a neat mechanic where you can actually own a car by purchasing a tracker and insurance for it. This will allow you to recover your car if you ever lose it or get it destroyed. While you can do this with low-to-mid range vehicles, the higher-end vehicles such as an Infernus, cannot be installed with a tracker. Not only that, but if the Police see you driving a stolen vehicle, they will immediately chase you. It really makes owning your own car advantageous.
While griefing is definately an issue in the public lobbies that you share with other players, it is possible to create private lobbies where only your friends and crew mates can populate. Doing this will reduce the chance of other players ruining your experience. I highly recommend it.
The best part of GTAO is the fact you can play it with friends! As you try to shake the cops, your partner in crime can hang out the window and shoot out the tires of your pursuers. Or better yet, have your buddy waiting in a helicopter right in the street for the perfect getaway vehicle! The possibilities are practically limitless, which allows the players to really make up their own narratives as they roam the city sandbox together. The amount of stories I’ve accumulated in the short time I’ve played is just staggering!
The value proposition on Grand Theft Auto is getting better and better with the addition of the online component. Rockstar is really flexing their developer muscles on this one, and it really shows. While it may have had a rocky start, Rockstar is doing its best to make up for it. I bought Grand Theft Auto being perfectly content with the great single player experience the series had always given me, but now, with the addition of this vast online mode, I see myself keeping Grand Theft Auto in my PS3 for a long time.